So, vinyl masters. There’s no reason why you should need a different master for vinyl than you do for CD or streaming. It depends how far you want to go with your vinyl master, but if you’ve mastered it correctly, it should translate straight to a cutting lathe, and they wouldn’t need to put any filters on it.

The reason they do that is that the lathe doesn’t like essy noises. The stylus goes left to right when it’s in the top end which has high-speed frequencies. If it’s super bright in there, then it goes fast, and the friction on the desk causes the cutter head to heat up and pop out. There’s also a chance that you’ll blow the cutter head so it won’t cut the lacquer correctly. And in the low end, if it goes out of phase, it will pop and go inwards, which also pops the stylus. So you need to have a good left and right, solid in the bass end.

If you’re mastering for download or CD, though, that should be able to cut flat to a lacquer. It’s a problem if you get a bad cutting plant, however. What they’ll do is they’ll put a filter across the top and bottom to get it onto the lacquer quickly, as a safety net for themselves. Lacquers are expensive, so they don’t want to lose loads of them because it starts eating into their profits. So to cut it quick, they put a lot of filters on the high and low ends to mono the bass and slam it onto the lathe. But then it’ll start sounding different because you’ve lost top end and low end and mono-ed the bass.

That’s why I tell people that if they are going to get vinyl pressed, then they should go to a proper mastering engineer and get him or her to make the lacquers, preferably one who has a lathe. That way, when you get a test pressing back from the plant, you get the mastering engineer to check that against what they did and against their digital version of it. It should sound exactly the same.

So yeah, they’re your basics: make sure there’s no excessive top end and no lows. If you’ve gone to a decent mastering engineer, they’ll know that anyway. And you should be able to cut flak from that. There’s no reason for you to have a different master for vinyl, CD or downloads.


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